Posts tagged with "Battery Park":

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A bona fide alien abduction monument pops up in Manhattan’s Battery Park

A very strange monument has popped up in Manhattan's Battery Park that alludes to a legendary UFO sighting in New York Harbor. Designed by Staten Island–based sculptor Joe Reginella, the curious memorial is dedicated to the six men aboard the tugboat Maria 120, which, according to Reginella, mysteriously vanished in July 1977. Reginella, who The New York Times called “the Banksy of monuments," crafted the NYC Tugboat Abduction monument out of weathered bronze in honor of local lore. Weighing a total of 300 pounds, it depicts a longshoreman kneeling beside an alien figure while looking up at the sky, or rather, an unidentified object flying away.  A plaque covering the pedestal of the four-piece monument tells the story of the long-lost Maria 120 and is “dedicated in their memory by Local 333 and the Honorable Mayor Edward I. Koch.” According to Reginella, the urban legend is that the tugboat and its crew, who were patrolling the waters between Liberty Island and Battery Park one summer night, mysteriously disappeared. The crew saw a streak of light shoot through the night sky before an aircraft of sorts crashed into the harbor. The crew radioed the Coast Guard to let them know they’d try to tow the vessel to shore, but when the backup help arrived, both the Maria 120 and the aircraft they claimed to have seen were gone. This isn’t the first seemingly-sincere memorial Reginella has made to poke fun at New York’s many word-of-mouth myths. He’s also done public art pieces dedicated to the Brooklyn Bridge Elephant Stampede and the apparent octopus attack that happened on a ferry near Staten Island. His work isn’t just fun, however—it’s educational. Reginella put together a website, a documentary trailer, and souvenirs to supplement the tugboat abduction story. His logo for the project features the Statue of Liberty with a UFO hovering over it. Interested viewers can even take a Harbor Mystery Cruise to learn more about the oddities that have taken place in New York Harbor. Since Reginella has to pack up and transport The NYC Tugboat Abduction monument every day, it’s periodically on view across from the East Coast Memorial. Catch it before it disappears forever.
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Coastal resilience project could threaten one of Manhattan’s finest postmodern parks

Citing the threat of rising seas, the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) is set to replace Battery Park City’s Robert F. Wagner Jr. ParkMachado Silvetti and OLIN’s 3.5-acre wedge near the south tip of Manhattan, offering panoramic views of the Statue of Liberty—with a new topography filled with deployable barriers and flood-proof landscapes. After Wagner’s 1994 opening, critic Paul Goldberger called the park “one of the finest public spaces New York has seen in at least a generation.” Its main elements include two pavilions joined by a wooden bridge; ornamental gardens; a central lawn; and grass, stone, and brick allées that lead people from Battery Park to Battery Place. Following the Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency Project (LMCR), the BPCA has stated that OLIN’s park and Machado Silvetti’s buildings would not be able to protect inland areas from floods. Initial conceptual designs by Perkins Eastman and W Architecture and Landscape Architecture called for deployable barriers contouring the existing buildings; increased maintenance and food services; and a new complex of flood-resistant lawns, gardens, cultural facilities, wetlands, and esplanades. On July 14, the BPCA issued an RFP for the final design, due September 29. The winner’s task, according to the RFP, is to advance the conceptual plans through to construction documents. “This project seems totally non-site-specific; the symbolic content of the park is completely lost. It’s very banal,” said Rodolfo Machado, principal of Machado Silvetti and one of a chorus of designers railing against the conceptual plans. Several city officials and residents have spoken out in support of a plan they see as vital to the area’s future. “I know that the most pressing issue of our time is protecting the place we live, work, and play from extreme weather events and sea-level rise,” said Catherine McVay Hughes, a member of the LMCR task force. “The [BPCA]’s forward-looking and realistic stance is an example that all levels of government should follow.” According to a BPCA spokesperson, the agency is exploring design and engineering plans for the revamp, now officially called the South Battery Park Resiliency Project, through 2018. It plans to select a firm to lead the project early that year, and site work will begin in the latter half of 2019.
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Architects aren’t happy with plans to remodel this Manhattan park

Despite new developments reshaping the city from ground to sky, the Statue of Liberty endures as one of New York's most iconic sights. Without getting on a boat, one of the best places to see Lady Liberty is Wagner Park, a small green slice of Battery Park City on the lower edge of Manhattan. Two decades ago Boston-based Machado Silvetti, in collaboration with landscape architects at OLIN, unveiled the park, an open space that ushers people towards the water’s edge with sweeping views of New York Harbor and that famous freedom statue. Now, in response to the specter of Hurricane Sandy and the threat of rising seas, the agency that oversees the area is planning a total park overhaul. The Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) is set to replace the existing landscape that architects and residents love with a park it says will align better with new resiliency measures that are reshaping the Manhattan waterfront. Though Wagner Park comprises just ten percent of Battery Park City's green space, its design punches above its weight. According to Machado Silvetti, the park has three defining features, all in service of stellar water views. The main building—really two pavilions whose rooftops are joined by a wooden bridge—is reached by facing allées that funnel pedestrians from Battery Park and Battery Place. From there, the view beckons park-goers onto a grassy expanse, framed by benches and stone paths. At its opening in 1996, architecture critic Paul Goldberger declared Wagner Park's three-and-a-half acres "one of the finest public spaces New York has seen in at least a generation." That was written in a pre-Sandy time, when climate change was a glimmer only in scientists’ eyes. Now, the BPCA, the state agency in charge of Battery Park City, says Wagner Park needs a totally new design to protect itself, as well as inland areas. Though it didn't flood during Sandy, hurricane-related inundation along nearby West Street and the area's "excessive vulnerabilities" made the agency consider a storm barrier to align with the city's Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency (LMCR) Project, said Gwen Dawson, vice president of real property at BPCA. Right now, LMCR protections terminate right before Wagner Park’s southern boundary and the city’s Battery Park City resiliency initiatives end at the park's north side, near the Museum of Jewish Heritage. At the water's edge, preliminary plans call for extending an existing esplanade to connect with nearby Pier A. To flood-proof inland areas, a deployable barrier set between thick columns would roughly contour the existing building's footprint and the southern allée, while a larger lawn and ornamental gardens would replace the current configuration of wood benches and stonework. BPCA has commissioned Stan Eckstut of New York’s Perkins Eastman, the same architect behind the original Battery Park City master plan, to design the new building and park (in collaboration with W Architecture and Landscape Architecture). Besides the landscape's vulnerability, Machado Silvetti’s building, BPCA says, is too deteriorated and set too deep into the 100-year floodplain to withstand future Sandys. At 12 feet, the structure's first-floor elevation is four-and-a-half feet shy of new minimum first-floor flood zone elevations. Perkins Eastman's design would keep the same footprint as the old building, but, at 42 feet tall, it would more than double the amount of retail space and add room for maintenance operations. The restrooms, which are bigger than those in Bryant Park, would be halved in size to deter tour buses from stopping at the park. Not everyone, though, thinks the BPCA’s approach—or design vision—fits the site. "Design is an important component of resiliency work,” landscape architect Laura Starr said. “The design community is able to translate engineering concepts in a way that’s legible—and attractive—to lay people, so everyone can understand all the options. We all need to be on the same page.” Starr—whose firm worked on the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, a major initiative to build resiliency along the Manhattan side of the East River—contends that solutions to flooding should focus on Pier A’s plaza, where in 2012 seawater inundated main roads, the World Trade Center site, and the ballfields along West Street. She questioned whether the deployable barriers, which even at rest are very visible and do not go up automatically, would be the best solution. Instead, she believes built-in-place barriers that double as promenades, parks, bikeways, green space, and (in some cases) elevated roads are more effective from a holistic resiliency standpoint than deployable barriers that rely on an operations team to be effective and don’t contribute to the urban design.

Starr serves on Manhattan Community Board 1 (CB1), which met earlier this month to discuss the proposal, the latest in a series of public meetings that commenced in April 2016. (According to a BPCA spokesperson, her firm, Starr Whitehouse bid unsuccessfully on the Wagner Park redesign.)*

CB1, for its part, wants more information. Although it affirmed its pledge to work with BPCA on the plans, CB 1’s Battery Park City Committee believed the expansive character of Wagner Park should be preserved. It expressed concern over the expanded commercial space, especially given the abundant retail options on Pier A. Its resolution states that "it has not been made clear to members of the Committee why the existing structure, which was built in 1994, must be replaced by a new building or why the new building is necessary." The original architect, too, is less than thrilled with the proposal. “The design premise is an insult to the Statue of Liberty,” said Rodolfo Machado, founding principal of Machado Silvetti. “This project seems totally non-site-specific; the symbolic content of the park is completely lost. It’s very banal.” He had not heard about the BPCA proposal until AN reached out for comment last week. Perkins Eastman principal Stan Eckstut maintained that Machado Silvetti’s design is sound, but added that the pavilion was not constructed for the restaurant that today occupies its ground floor. Water, though, has seeped through the bricks and built up inside the walls, causing deterioration. There’s also not enough space for maintenance operations, so the BPCA wants to add 1,800 square feet of space for maintenance, bringing the total to 4,300 square feet. The project's budget has yet to be finalized, but it's estimated it will cost tens of millions of dollars. The next step, BPCA officials said, is engineering and design, which includes the development of an RFP for a more detailed program that is set to come out within the next 90 days. Though this plan affects only a sliver of New York’s 520 miles of coastline, the rebuild-and-replace approach raises larger questions about the future of climate change design in New York City. At Machado’s suggestion, AN reached out to architects for comment on the proposed changes to Wagner Park and the future of resilient landscapes in New York. We’ll update readers as more comments come online. Nader Tehrani, founding principal of NADAAA and dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at The Cooper Union:
[It’s] unfortunate that there is a move to demolish these pavilions and replace them with structures that do not acknowledge the colossal scale at which pavilions would need to operate in relation to the NYC skyline, nor acknowledge the critical urbanistic connections to the Statue of Liberty…or the other more nuanced connections within Battery Park City. It might be that these pavilions, like many other structures and landscapes on the edge of Manhattan, would need to be revisited in terms of resilience, and their ability to absorb the cyclical fluctuations of a piece of infrastructure. But to deny them of the critical urbanistic function they offer is to deny NYC some of its paradigmatic qualities. At the end, rising tides will become a consistent challenge in the coming years. If at every turn, the alibi of impending doom is adopted as the basis for the demolition of critical values that make up the discipline of urbanism, then we will end up with a series of barriers (both physical and cultural) that deny us of engaging the very reasons we build urban cultures.
Toshiko Mori, founding principal, Toshiko Mori Architect:
I think the park has become a type of fixture in our downtown life. The design is a bit idiosyncratic but it is very well-detailed and there is something very endearing about the structure which takes into account multiple scales of elements occurring on the site from high rises downtown to the view of the harbor to the experience of park at human scale. In particular, the front esplanade is an excellent design, it makes for a beautiful transition from the building to the lawn. Its gentle arc and steps and stone details help negotiate this important edge in a very graceful manner. Isn't it possible to leave it as is and let it flood like they do in Venice? Or take care of flooding issue in a less obtrusive manner?
Zack McKown, founding principal of Tsao & McKown:
I would like to know more, especially regarding alternative ways of dealing with sea level rise that could preserve the Wagner Park structure by Machado Silvetti. Their design enhances an urban place that offers uniquely strong visual connections to the Statue of Liberty. They employed a powerful and erudite architectural vocabulary that elevates one's appreciation for an appropriately monumental civic celebration and at the same time delightfully challenges one to ponder its mysterious formal origins.
The project that is being proposed has no comparable ennobling or engaging qualities that I can see from these drawings.
*Starr Whitehouse is currently working with Perkins Eastman on another project and the partners worked with the BPCA at a previous firm
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New York City to receive $176 million in federal funding for East Side coastal resiliency project

New York City will receive $176 million in federal funding for disaster recovery. The funding would be put towards a section of the project extending from the northern portion of Battery Park City to Montgomery Street on the Lower East Side. The money is part of $181 million in funding for recovery projects in New York and New Jersey. The funds came from the National Disaster Resilience Competition, a U.S. Department Housing and Urban Development–sponsored competition to rebuild communities affected by natural disasters, The New York Times reports. The BIG–designed East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (scaled down, but known in former incarnations as the DryLine or the BIG U) calls for sea walls, retractable flood barriers, and grass berms that would double as riverside recreation areas, opening up the waterfront to create a shoreline comparable to the recreation-rich shores of Manhattan's West Side. The East Side Coastal Resiliency Project arose from Rebuild by Design, a 2014 competition to solicit ideas for six large-scale flood protection and resiliency measures in the tristate area. Rebuild by Design awarded New York City $335 million in federal funds for the East 23rd Street to Montgomery Street section. Mayor de Blasio has committed $100 million in capital funding to the project already.
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Meet Fleurt, New York’s most anticipated chair of the fall season

Fleurt, the winning design for the Battery Conservancy America's "Draw Up a Chair" competition, has been described as an “archetypal floral form” and even a “whimsical suggestion of sun-loving flowers floating in a field.” But it is much more than that. Fleurt “announces openness and photogenic warmth” and creates a “memorable, diaphanous landscape.” Fleurt “stretches out” with its “lounging curves.” Fleurt is, yes, fine, technically a chair. Fleurt comes to us from the mind of Canadian designer Andrew Jones who just won New York’s first-ever, open-call competition to create a moveable chair for a city park. The contest, which was launched in 2012 by the New York City Parks Department and the Battery Conservancy, received 679 submissions from across the Americas. From there, a jury selected 50 finalists and then prototypes of five of those designs were fabricated and exhibited to the public. And then, after 4,000 comments were collected, the jury picked Fleurt as the winner. And if it wasn't clear from the above descriptions of said chair, the competition organizers were very, very excited to announce that. Very excited. If you can slice through all the adjectives surrounding Fleurt, it is possible to get a sense of just the basics. The chairs are made of perforated steel and will be fabricated in varying shades of blue. The floral aesthetic is realized through petal-shaped armrests that may or may not be comfortable. “I don’t like the way it forces you to make a decision with your arms,” one  sitter told the New York Times after trying out the Fleurt. To be fair, his wife disagreed with that assessment, saying “I’m not bothered by the arm rests." Soon enough you, too, can weigh-in on the Great Fleurt Armrest Debate of 2014 as the chairs are expected to arrive on the Battery Oval in Lower Manhattan by the end of the year.
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Rebuild By Design> BIG’s “BIG U” for Lower Manhattan

In early April, the ten finalists in the Rebuild By Design competition unveiled their proposals to protect the Tri-state region from the next Sandy. And in the near future, a jury will select a winner—or winners—to receive federal funding to pursue their plans. But before that final announcement is made, AN is taking a closer look at each of the final ten proposals. Here's BIG's "Big U" that could save Lower Manhattan from the next superstorm. Team BIG encased Lower Manhattan in  the "Big U," a ring of flood protection measures and community and recreational programming. The 10-mile system is separated into compartments that provide unique storm mitigation strategies and programming for the distinct communities along Manhattan's outer edge. On the East Side, the Bridging Berm protects against future storms and provides access to riverfront parkland when the waters are calm. Underneath the FDR Expressway, BIG would install panels that are decorated by local artists and can be deployed as storm-walls when necessary. A new berm in Battery Park would protect the country's financial center and provide a new pathway through the already popular public space. And an existing Coast Guard building is replaced with a "reverse aquarium," which "enables visitors to observe tidal variations and sea level rise while providing a flood barrier." The team includes One Architecture, Starr Whitehouse, James Lima Planning + Development, Project Projects, Green Shield Ecology, AEA Consulting, Level Agency for Infrastructure, Arcadis, and the Parsons School of Constructed Environments.
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Calatrava Offers First Glimpse of Liberty Park at World Trade Center When Unveiling Church Design

The cat is out of the bag. An elevated park, covering over an acre of ground at the Word Trade Center site, will ascend 25 feet above Liberty Street in Lower Manhattan. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey had tried to keep the project—named Liberty Park—under wraps, but last month, Santiago Calatrava, the architect of the new St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, posted images of the building on his website, which also revealed the design of the adjacent park. The New York Times reported that the $50 million park, which will eventually overlook the National September 11 Memorial, will have multiple uses from a a forecourt for St. Nicholas to a verdant passageway between between the financial district and Battery Park City. It will also provide a practical function as a green rooftop covering the trade center's security center.

Joseph E. Brown, landscape architect and chief innovation officer of Aecom, will design the park, which will include 40 trees and shrubs, a curving balcony, several walkways, and a 300 foot long "living wall" composed of Japanese spurge, Baltic Ivy, among other plantings. It will also feature a grand staircase behind the church furnished with wooden benches and seating tiers.

Much of the design is subject to change, but construction on the park should be well on its way by early next year. The new St. Nicholas Church will barely resemble its former home that was destroyed on September 11th. The new structure will rise on a large bulkhead to cover the vehicle security center on Liberty Street. In stark contrast to the simplicity of the original building, the new structure gives a nod to the architectural heritage of Byzantine churches in Istanbul: the Hagia Sophia and the Church of the Holy Savior in Chora. According to the Times, Calatrava will design a dome with 40 ribs just like the Hagia Sophia, and detail the interior with "alternating bands of stone on the corners" which will "echo the walls of the Chora church." This decision to pay homage to the architectural tradition of religious institutions in Turkey is not only an aesthetic one. Many of these churches became places for Islamic worship at different points in history, and tailoring the design after these historic structures has greater and more meaningful implications about religious tolerance. Several years ago, protests ensured when a plan for an Islamic community center and mosque surfaced. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese struck a deal with Port Authority to lease the site for 99 years in exchange for allowing them to build at their original location on 155 Cedar Street.
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ALIS Bench: A Prospective Addition To Battery Park

Whether it be Times Square’s "meeting bowls" or Chelsea’s metal shutter benches, New York City has developed a tradition of engaging in innovative approaches to integrate various types of seating amenities. The latest piece of street furniture in the works is the ALIS bench, designed by Edward Kim, Tommaso Casucci, Charles Jones, and Mike Nesbit, which may soon augment the landscape of Battery Park, an area that commonly serves as a site for experimentation in the design of communal enclaves. Sturdy and lightweight, the bench is fabricated through a process of plastic injection molding. This eco-friendly product is inspired by the designers’ keen interest in renewable resources. The plastics chosen for fabrication are made from renewable or reproducible sources such as plant-based products and have been increasingly used in the production of plastic materials over the past century, particularly those found in playground equipment. The end result is an environmentally friendly product that also provides optimum comfort to its users. The designers describe ALIS as a “temporal instrument” deeply embedded in the landscape. Its “fiber logic” substructure distributes external forces through its skin system and lights up the bench’s intricate web of fibers at night. The bench’s curves adapt to the shape and configuration of the human body. The intertwinement of fiber bundles in the bench efficiently responds to areas of higher impact stress and creates a rigid and thick material surface resulting in a more durable structure.
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Battery Conservancy Announces 50 Chair Design Finalists in “Draw Up a Chair” Competition

After reviewing 679 remarkable entries, a world-renowned jury on behalf of New York City’s Battery Conservancy and NYC Parks has selected the top 50 designs of the “Draw Up A Chair” design competition. The chair proposals are by students and professionals from nine countries around the world. The winning submission will be built and available for public use in Lower Manhattan's Battery Park. NYC Parks is eager to share the designs with the public and to receive feedback, as the chair will be for all New Yorkers and visitors to use upon installation. The Battery Conservancy established the competition to emphasize and encourage excellence in design and innovation in the public realm. The Conservancy is asking the public to participate in the competition by commenting online about the chairs. The top 50 designs are available to view from May through October on banners near the Battery Green in Lower Manhattan. Visitors can express their opinions on-site by texting (424) CHAIR-55. All 679 submissions are viewable through the online gallery. The selection of the top 50 chair designs is the second in the four-phase competition. The next round of finalists will be revealed in November and the Conservancy will build full-scale prototypes of the curated selection. The final winner will receive $10,000 and the winning design will be replicated at an estimated 300 units for public use on the Battery Green.
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In Construction> WXY’s SeaGlass Carousel in Battery Park

WXY architecture + urban design has been adding to Lower Manhattan's Battery Park over the years, designing concession stands, a variety of benches, and a fountain, but their latest addition is adding a twist on the usual urban carousel. AN began watching the ocean-themed SeaGlass carousel back in 2006 when it was announced and the Battery Conservancy will be hosting a topping off ceremony for the structure on April 18. The carousel's frame is made of stainless steel, evoking the spiral of a giant sea shell or the ornate ceiling of a cathedral. WXY principal Claire Weisz said the part of the facade now covered in plywood sheathing will be clad in metal panels while other portions will include "smart glass" that can change from transparent to a dark blue tint. The solid areas serve as projection surfaces on the interior where underwater scenes will add to the enchanted effect of riding atop larger-than-life sea creatures like dolphins, clown fish, and turtles. Watch Weisz and co-principal Mark Yoes describe the carousel and other WXY projects in their Emerging Voices address from March 16, 2011. SeaGlass is the the latest in a line of high design carousels in New York, joining Jean Nouvel's Jane's Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
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From Urban Farm to Urban Forks

After giving a brief lesson in New York's Dutch history, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe opened a one-acre urban farm to a couple hundred local school children in Battery Park on Monday. It's the Battery's first farm in the area since the Dutch tilled soil there in 1625. The idea for the farm brought together celebrity chefs, architects, and community activists to work alongside the kids. The design, by the newly formed STUDIOperFORM, incorporated bamboo salvaged from last year's Metropolitan Museum rooftop exhibit, Big Bambú. Design partners Shane Neufeld, an architect, and Scott Dougan, a set designer, used an silhouette of Zelda, the park's resident turkey, as the basis for their design. Neufeld said that Zelda was never meant to be fully recognizable, instead, the design serves as narrative to teach the children about nature. As a native of Brooklyn, Neufeld said that he doesn't recall ever having a garden. "We had a parking lot," he said. The idea for the farm was hatched by students at Millennium High School's Environmental Club and quickly gained momentum once they got Battery Park Conservancy President Warrie Price on board. Price said that with seven schools within walking distance, 683 students will be able to get their hands dirty. She added that even though 5000 bamboo poles were used to make the fence, they still have enough left over for furniture, should another design firm be inclined to offer their talents. In addition to the children's gardens, area restaurants will also use the farm to provide specialty ingredients for their own operations. Merchants Market will grow there, and the new Fatty Cue Kiosk and Fatty Shack will grow herb gardens. Fatty owner Kevin Pomplun said that they've already been talking about planting anise-hyssop, borge, and other rare ingredients to top off ice cream deserts and savory dishes. The amalgam of restaurants, kids, designers and neighborhood groups prompted Benepe to remark, "This is absolutely unique," adding that the operation might serve as a prototype for other city parks.
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In Riverhouse Lawsuit, Not Easy Being Green

Despite its slow gestation, Battery Park City is widely considered a resounding success today, particularly in the areas of sustainable design, which was required of many of the complex's latter day projects. Standing out among even these green stalwarts is the recently completed Riverhouse, designed by Polshek Partnership and shooting for LEED Gold, though the project now provides a bit of a cautionary tale for ambitious developers. According to the Journal, two tenants recently sued the projects' developers for $1.5 million for breach of contract and fraud because the building was deemed not as green as it had been billed. Among the issues:
[The suit] says the owners' engineers "found a deviation of 49%" over the LEED standards "in the cumulative size of holes and cracks allowing infiltration of cold air." The complaint also alleges that air temperature for heating the apartment was too low, which the owners say is a sign that the building isn't maximizing energy efficiency.
The paper goes on to suggest that the suit may simply be a means to get out of the now exorbitant $4.2 million three-bedroom apartment. The more important lesson, though, may be on the strengths and weaknesses of sustainability in general and LEED in particular. After all, Riverhouse had once been aiming for the crown of first Platinum-rated residence in the city, yet now it has settled for Gold, a sign of the difficulty in meeting such standards. And yet the findings by the plaintiff's engineers that the project is not even performing at that high level are both surprising and not -- for rarely, if ever, are these buildings tested after the fact. (Then again, who needs to test a building's efficacy when you've got Operation Green to make your case?)